down and down 44 Walker Street loft closes after a year, off 7% since Peak

ominous trend line
The Manhattan loft on the 4th floor at 44 Walker Street closed on April 26 at $1.79mm, which seems not particularly brag-worthy given that it started the marketing campaign way back on November 26, 2009 at $2.3mm. But would you be more inclined to brag if I told you that the loft sold almost exactly at The Peak (August 6, 2008; contract date May 1, 2008) for $1.925mm? That is, the recent sale is off only 7% since The Peak.

On the other hand, that Peak sale was itself an anomaly, or The Peak struck this extreme northeast corner of Tribeca awfully early: the sale prior to August 2008 was way back in October 2005 when the 4th floor sold for … (wait for it) … $2.025mm. That is, the recent sale is off a stunning 11.6% since 2005.

A pretty peculiar history, recapped:

  • Oct 27, 2005 $2.025mm
  • Aug 6, 2008 $1.925mm
  • April 26, 2011 $1.79mm

a StreetEasy string is broken
You may have noticed that there are no web links to listings or sales so far, unlike in the typical Manhattan Loft Guy post. That’s because I did not want to have to divert in the first paragraph to explain an oddity in StreetEasy’s history of this unit. If you click on the StreetEasy listing associated with the April 26 deed (here), you are taken to the Sothebys listing that, from November 26, 2009 to July 19, 2010 (the later date from our data-base as “temporarily off the market”) did not result in the recent sale. StreetEasy has the later Corcoran listing (here) beginning October 12, 2010 and including a contract as of February 18, which ends not with the sale, but with the April 27 “[l]isting is no longer available”.

Not to single out StreetEasy’s data system (ours makes the same kind of mis-matches, or misses matches), but the expired Sothebys listing and the deed both refer to this loft as “#4”, while the (disconnected) Corcoran listing refers to the loft as “#4FL”. This happens all the time with full-floor lofts, with machines (programs) not being able to recognize that “#4” and “#4FL” are the same loft. Sigh.

complete history, fully linked
For the anal among you (my favorite readers!), here is the whole odd history with StreetEasy links where available, starting with a fun fact from 1996 for which there is no StreetEasy link:

April 25, 1996 sold $440,000
Oct 27, 2005 sold $2.025mm
April 4, 2008 new to market $1.95mm
May 1 contract  
Aug 6 sold $1.925mm
Nov 26, 2009 new to market $2.3mm
Feb 6, 2010   $2.185mm
Feb 26   $1.995mm
July 19 hiatus  
Oct 12 change firm  
Nov 13   $1.925mm
Jan 4, 2011   $1.875mm
Feb 18 contract  
April 26  sold $1.79mm

With the whole history (as much as can be reconstructed, at least), we see that the near-Peak buyers of August 2008 did not camp happily for very long, as they put the loft on the market within 16 months. We also see that they were then wildly optimistic about the value (or, perhaps they were simply unmotivated). Also interesting: they changed firms but not price when they ended a 2 month hiatus in October 2010 (or, not price right away).

from footprint to floor plan, a problem
The “1,800 sq ft” loft is a classic Long-and-Narrow, roughly 23 x 90 feet, with no side windows. So far as I can tell, the layout has been the same since before the 2005 sale. The problem (to me) is caused by the fact that the common stairwell is so close to the back as to make it impractical to have 2 real bedrooms across the back wall. Instead, the layout takes advantage of rear plumbing stacks to run the master suite across the entire rear wall, permitting a windowed master bath.

Instead of being a One Bed Wonder, the choice was to put additional sleep spaces (without windows) on the long wall, which is probably the most logical solution. But note what this choice does to the floor plan: the open width of nearly the entire loft is less than 14 feet. That width is fine for a prewar living room, and fine for parts of a loft, but (essentially) the entire public part of the loft is only 14 feet wide, from the entry to the living space to the dining space to the open kitchen. There are many 23 foot wide lofts that feel ‘spacious’; this is not one of them. (I saw it with potential buyers about a year ago; trust me on this.)

Even the placement of the elevator works against the sense of space. My very strong guess is that the elevator was added to the building long after it was built (like many loft buildings that are 150+ years old; and like many loft buildings with elevators very close to the front wall). Note that the elevator placement burns one of the four front windows. Imagine, instead, if the elevator adjoined the common stairwell, as it does in many loft buildings, even in buildings in which the elevators were added later: the front of the space would feel much more open, and there would be a strong temptation to only have one “sleep area / study” on that long wall, instead of two.

Under that fantasy, the front of the space would be 23 feet wide for as much as 20 feet of length into the loft … creating a very different sense of space than the current 14 x 60 foot public space, through which one is constantly walking between furniture pieces (look at the pix!).

Department of Redundancy Department
Fascinating as this layout problem resulting from a common stair that is ‘too far back’ and an elevator that is ‘too far forward’ is, the really weird thing about this Manhattan loft is the sales history, once again recapped:

  • Oct 27, 2005 $2.025mm
  • Aug 6, 2008 $1.925mm
  • April 26, 2011 $1.79mm

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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